It may seem like just yesterday you were driving around with a “Baby on Board” sign hanging from your window. If your teen lives in New Jersey, that sign has most likely been replaced with a novice decal sticker. As part of their graduated driver licensing laws, New Jersey is the only state requiring those younger than 21 without full-privilege licenses to display a red decal on their car that identifies them as new drivers. All 50 states have some form of GDL requirements, but they vary greatly depending on where you live.
It wasn’t always that way.
I recall standing in line at the DMV waiting for the doors to open on my 16th birthday. Less than 12 months later with 3 accidents under my belt, my ’67 VW bug sported various colored parts from the local junkyard.
States began enacting GDL laws in the 1990’s. Most of the programs have restrictions in place that address driving after dark, the number of passengers allowed in the car and how many hours of supervised driving are needed. Thirty one states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by new drivers.
Which graduated licensing requirements have the most impact?
Apparently the jury is still out. To get a provisional license in the state of North Carolina, you must be at least 16 years old, have had a learner’s permit for at least a year, and be able to document 60 hours of parent-supervised driving. Michigan teens can start working toward their license as early as 14 years, 8 months, and earn driving privileges in 3 phases, culminating in a level 3 license at age 17. Oregon requires 100 hours of supervised driving, more than any other state, while South Dakota has no specific minimum for supervised driving hours.
How Does Your State Measure Up?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ranks state licensing systems for young drivers, giving points for key components of GDL. Even in states ranked “good,” there is still room for improvement.
See alphabetical listing of states with rankings for licensing systems.
Are the Graduated Licensing Laws working in your state?